IT Science Case Study: Providing Cloud Services to Rural America

SOLUTION ANALYSIS: How do high-performance cloud services get to the smaller cities and rural areas where a large percentage of U.S. business is done? Digital Realty provides answers in this use case.


Here is the latest article in a new eWEEK feature series called IT Science, in which we look at what actually happens at the intersection of new-gen IT and legacy systems.

Unless it’s brand new and right off various assembly lines, servers, storage and networking inside every IT system can be considered “legacy.” This is because the iteration of both hardware and software products is speeding up all the time. It’s not unusual for an app-maker, for example, to update and/or patch for security purposes an application a few times a month, or even a week. Some apps are updated daily! Hardware moves a little slower, but manufacturing cycles are also speeding up.

These articles describe new-gen industry solutions. The idea is to look at real-world examples of how new-gen IT products and services are making a difference in production each day. Most of them are success stories, but there will also be others about projects that blew up. We’ll have IT integrators, system consultants, analysts and other experts helping us with these as needed.

Today’s Topic: Providing Cloud Services to Rural America

Name the problem to be solved: Enterprise cloud use is on the rise, but most of the major providers are focused on supplying access to major metros. How do high-performance cloud services get to the smaller cities and rural areas where a large percentage of US business is done? INDATEL, a member-owned cooperative representing more than 700 independent regional telephone service providers serving rural America, required a simple and secure solution to extend multi-cloud access to Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud and Microsoft Azure for local government, health care, financial and educational end users. Digital Realty’s Service Exchange platform enabled INDATEL to provide its customers with secure, reliable, high-performance and private cloud access to their leading providers.

Describe the strategy that went into finding the solution: INDATEL connects 700+ rural exchange carriers, 1100+ POPs and 275,000 buildings with 100,000+ miles of fiber, linking rural to urban America and establishing direct, private connections to multiple cloud service providers economically. Yet, INDATEL’s members’ local government, health care, and educational customers required simplicity gained from a secure and scalable cloud connectivity solution addressing current and future needs. Digital Realty’s Service Exchange allows INDATEL to infuse its existing fiber assets with significant new value for Fortune 500 companies in rural markets.

Key components in the solution:

  • Point-to-cloud Empowerment: Digital Realty’s Service Exchange provides INDATEL members private, secure, high throughput, low latency access over a single interface to multiple cloud service providers and partners, overcoming some of the inherent challenges and limitations of internet access and enabling critical workloads that may not have been possible previously.
  • Peer-to-peer Connection: With Digital Realty’s Service Exchange, INDATEL members can easily establish secure peer-to-peer connections among themselves.
  • Scalability: As INDATEL members’ bandwidth needs increase, so will capacity as aggregating traffic from multiple customers over a single connection allows customers to scale more efficiently with Digital Realty’s Service Exchange.
  • Flexible Pricing: Digital Realty’s Service Exchange allows INDATEL to manage their private access costs more efficiently and effectively.

Describe how the deployment went, perhaps how long it took, and if it came off as planned: The single interface inherent to Service Exchange made deployment very simple and intuitive, enabling the INDATEL team to turn up the service in minutes, not days or weeks. The service has also been highly reliable with nothing to troubleshoot. Moreover, Service Exchange has been immediately impactful to INDATEL’s clients, reducing complexities and inefficiencies by avoiding the public internet.

Describe the result, new efficiencies gained, and what was learned from the project: Digital Realty’s Service Exchange Platform enables INDATEL’s member carriers to offer their customers direct, private, secure connectivity to multiple cloud providers. Also, the combination eliminates high set-up fees and requirements of individual cloud providers, and helps members update and diversify their offerings, key as enterprises are expected to continue moving more of their workloads to the cloud with the need for digital transformation as the leading factor driving adoption of public cloud changing business models and driving more IT agility than ever before.

Describe ROI, carbon footprint savings, and staff time savings, if any: The ROI for INDATEL is tremendous. No truck rolls are required, meaning savings in labor, fuel, not to mention time savings. Often, INDATEL customers are in remote areas, so truck rolls need to be planned well in advance. The ability to turn up services or adjust in minutes through the Service Exchange portal has been extremely valuable.

If you have a suggestion for an eWEEK IT Science article, email [email protected] 

Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 15 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...